New youth centre dubbed a 'shining beacon' for community opens in derelict church

The Y Centre, run by YMCA Tayside, has officially opened it's doors following a £6m investment project.

A 130-year-old crumbling church in Perth has been transformed into a space where young people can access support.

The Y Centre, run by YMCA Tayside, has officially opened its doors at the derelict St Andrew’s Church in Atholl Street following a £6m investment project.

Spread across three floors, the building now has a brand new kitchen for cooking lessons, snug area and conference room which when not rented is used for fitness and dance classes by the charity.

Layla Riddoch is a youth worker with the charity, who previously came to the YMCA for support.

She said young people have been at the heart of the redesign.

She told STV News: “The whole building is based on what young people want down to the the lights we’ve put in. It’s all focused on young people.

“It attracts young people and just people walking past so they’re engaging that way.

“Young people from our outreach clubs now want to come and see this new building.”

Youth worker Layla Riddoch

The new centre also incorporates a café where young people can learn employment skills and a shop to support small businesses.

Lily MacGregor sells t-shirts she designed in the shop after starting her business following support from the YMCA.

She says the new centre will offer young people more opportunities.

Layla said: “It’s a brand new shining beacon in Perth and Kinross.

“It’s somewhere where young people can go to. They’ve got plenty of opportunities and the brand new building can provide even more opportunities than before.”

YMCA Tayside supports hundred of young people aged between 14 and 25.

For the first time, the Perth branch are building flats to respond to an increasing demand for safe supportive accommodation.

A £300,000 loan from Social Investment Scotland has enabled the charity to build seven flats rental flats and one emergency studio flat.

CEO of YMCA Tayside Gill McGrath says they were seeing a rise in demand for this kind of support.

She said: “Over and over again we would see young people leaving supported accommodation.

“We’ve got some great units in Perth but they maybe weren’t ready for their own tenancy and they would lose their tenancy and be back to square one.

“This will be transition housing for them. We’ve also seen a need for emergency housing for when a young person becomes homeless and there’s not an appropriate bed. Then we can provide support.”

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